British Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has revealed how Queen Elizabeth gave him a lesson in dining etiquette as he sat next to the Queen at lunch.
Hamilton said on the BBC’s Graham Norton show: “I got invited to a lunch and was sitting next to The Queen. I was excited and started to talk to her but she said, pointing to my left, ‘No you speak that way first and I’ll speak this way and then I’ll come back to you.’”
He added "She is a sweet woman and we talked about how she spends her weekends, houses and music. She is really cool."
A spokesman for Debrett’s, the society etiquette experts said “The Queen would begin to speak to the person on her right, the guest of honour – for the duration of the first course.”
“For the next course she would speak to the person seated to her left. This thus indeed means it is convention at a dinner party to speak to the guest seated to one's left before speaking to the one on the right – also with the Queen."
Etiquette expert Diana Mather said that the protocol for speaking to the person on your left first, known as Turning The Table, dates at least as far back as the Victorian times.
Mather also said: “Lewis’s first mistake was actually communicating with the Queen before she spoke to him. He should have waited until she spoke to him.
“Turning The Table goes back to Victorian times if not before and the idea is that you would talk to the person on your left for the first course and the person on your right for the main course. The rule is that you keep changing for each course.
“I also think that the Queen was quite possibly helping Lewis because the person on his left was probably not speaking to anyone and so she would not want them to feel left out. I imagine it was a woman as the table setting for a formal lunch would be man, woman, man, woman and you would not want to leave a lady with no one to talk to!”
Hamilton is not the only high-profile person warned for not following Royal protocol. Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States, was also warned on a visit to Britain in 2009 when she hugged The Queen during a meeting.
German officials were issued a four-page guide to royal protocol including instructions against trying to take a “selfie” with Her Majesty.
Former US president George Bush was criticised when he suggested the 89-year-old Queen had celebrated the bicentennial of the US in 1776.